TV People on Self Destruction and Fuzzy Bass Tones

TV People are rising stars in the ever growing list of Irish bands creating a full on rock scene. We caught them on Zoom to get the lowdown.

TV People are taking on 2020 with force; building a name for themselves as the latest in a wave of talent bursting out of Dublin.

On recent single ‘String’, the brooding, punk-tinged undertones and slowed guitar lines have earned early comparisons to the likes of Interpol and Editors

String

The song is about the feelings of hopelessness, regret and frustration that I’ve felt in the past when I’ve been stuck in that situation and the damage that they do to your mind over time.”

First toying with the idea of creating the band, Paul, Brendan and Len later recruited Rob to perfect the group’s dynamic.

We felt we needed to know more.

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

Paul: I suppose we’re all in a lockdown in Dublin at the moment. So we haven’t been able to rehearse or meet up as much as we’d like.

Len: I’m outside my office. I have to go to work every day.

Paul: We’re basically trying to write from home, recording stuff at home and sending stems over to each other. Brandon’s mixing everything together and we’re trying to throw a few demos together, but obviously it’s not as ideal as being able to go into rehearsals together and being able to jam a few ideas out. But we gotta do what we gotta do.

P3dro: Introduce us to the band. Tell us about TV People. Where and how did you form?

Paul: I met Len years ago. That’s probably ancient history, now. We just used to jam casually every Friday with our guitars. Eventually we put an ad online, looking for a drummer and we met Brendan. The three of us just met for years, having a few beers. We never played any gigs or had any ambition to do anything other than have a good time.

Then at the start of last year, Rob joined in on bass and from that moment we started taking it a lot more seriously, looking into writing and gigging.

Until Covid 19 kicked in, we were very busy for the year. But everything’s stopped now.

P3dro: What do we need to know about TV People? What are you trying to say?

Brendan: It’s a tough one. I feel we’ve been going as a group for maybe a year and a half now. We all have very strong opinions, which is good. We also do everything very collaboratively. For the last several months, since we released our for singles, we have really settled on our sound and a direction.

Before that we weren’t really settled on what we wanted to do, whether mainstream indie stuff. But with the musicianship we have, we’re all into a kind of post-punk and interesting bass lines. With my drums, I try to be quite in your face, with beats that have a statement to them.

We have a strong rhythm section and that mixes with Len’s guitar and Paul’s lower register vocals. We’ve settled on that kind of sound, which is quite dark, has punk elements, but also tries to be melodic at the same time. We’re mixing that kind of indie thing we did at the beginning with a post-punk ideal, dark production thing we landed on, which is quite cool.

P3dro: Yeah, you’ve hit on a couple of words we were going to ask about. Let’s take them in stages. String is a dark single isn’t it?

Paul: Yeah, I suppose before lockdown we were taking every single gig anyone offered us, so we were just flat out all the time, we were always out in Dublin, probably four or five nights a week, gigging and going mad on sessions, as you do.

Then when lockdown started it slowed down the pace of life. There was a lot of time to be thinking, reflecting on stuff. ‘String’ came out of that period, looking back at the way we’d been carrying on pre-lockdown. I was thinking Jeez, that was a bit mental in retrospect, slowly going off the rails.

I wanted to convey that period, when it was normalised and you maybe didn’t even see it as much of an issue. It talks from the perspective of having come out the other side.

P3dro: Yeah, you’ve talked about that song being about self destructive behaviour.

Paul: Absolutely, it’s a thing I’ve gone through plenty of times and most people have done the same. You might be going through a bad spot in life and you tip into the pits a fair bit more than you would normally. You set yourself on a bit of a cycle, wake up the next day going Jeez, I’m absolutely shellshocked here.

And then you kick start the cycle thinking you need two or three pints to get going and steady the hands before we start playing again. I think most people go through that kind of stuff. Well, there are definitely loads of people I know who have been in that kind of situation. It’s probably common enough. I was just trying to voice that experience.

P3dro: The other word you used was in that answer was’punk’. What does that word mean to you? Do you see yourselves as punks?

Paul: That’s an interesting question. I suppose there may be a split amongst us on that one.

Rob: I wouldn’t resonate that much with the idea behind traditional punk music. I’d be drawn more towards the sound of it than maybe the lyricism. I appreciate the issues they were trying to write about, in terms of being progressive, but I’m more into the sonic aspect of it rather than the behaviour and the song topics.

Paul: It’s a state of mind, Rob, you know! But I get Rob’s point. Our songs don’t really go flying aggressively. We tend to be more mid-tempo. So from that respect, maybe not [punk] but there are elements of punk shining a light on things that do resonate with me from when I was younger.

I love The Clash, but we didn’t set out to channel those kinds of influences. At the same time we don’t worry too much about labelling our sound. Whenever people ask us what kind of band we are, especially in 2020 when pretty much every guitar band is called punk, we don’t really worry too much.

Brendan: Yeah, I think it maybe falls back, as Rob was saying to a production aspect, when you’re in the studio and you get the guitar sounds, the drum sounds. I think there is a punk aspect, you can have fuzzy bass tones that aren’t super hi-fi. But it does boil down to Paul’s lyrics and the music around that. We don’t really think a lot about what genre we are.

P3dro: You mention lyrics. You sing quite a lot about everyday life, the kind of mundane experiences we go through.

Paul: Yeah, I’d say that’s fairly accurate. I try to write about what I know and a need to get something out of my system. For me it’s [often] the negative, kind of dreary side of things. It’s very rarely comfy and buzzing about things. I’m not going to write a song about how lovely and sunny it is today. It doesn’t resonate with me.

It’s not something we intentionally set out to do. It just naturally flows along that way. The negative stuff just kind of sticks – it’s easier to pump it out there.

P3dro: So, we’re not going to get a love song out of TV People?

Paul: Jeez. I haven’t got the inspiration yet. There’s something about love songs that are a bit clichéd a lot of the time. It can be done well, but it hasn’t taken my fancy just yet.

Brendan: I think I always appreciate music that shows insecurity, vulnerability and weakness. Some defiance and those kind of emotions and feelings. When I think of my favourite songs you relate to the song writer and feel better about your own experience.

Rob: I think that’s something you see in all forms of art as well.

P3dro: How is working out being based in Dublin? The reason we ask is because we spoke to The Clockworks last night and they relocated to London a couple of years ago.

Paul: One thing about Dublin is the scene is incredibly supportive and there’s a really good sense of support from other bands you’re gigging with. Everyone looks out for each other and it’s a positive scene to be involved with.

It was a good one for us to learn and get the experience gigging. Obviously we’d love to get over to London sometime, but we don’t have much choice at the moment. We’ll be in Dublin for the foreseeable future. But then there are far worse places we could be based.

There’s something electric about the scene at the moment. The music coming out of Dublin and Ireland, generally is just absolutely amazing. It’s brilliant to be around. It’s really inspiring.

P3dro: You’ve released 4 singles so far. Are we going to see an album from TV People?

Paul: You’ll see one, eventually, yeah. I suppose at the moment, every time we get a bit of money we’re just running into the studio, recording what we can. We’d be recording more often if we had more cash.

Recording an album would cost a fair wack of money.

I’d say you could probably see us building up to a nice EP sometime in the first half of next year [2021] and then we’ll move on from there to grander ambitions.

P3dro: What are your grand ambitions?

Paul: Jeez. Get an album out. Go to Europe. Fly all over the place. That would be fun.

But at this stage, my grand ambition would be to play a gig. Anywhere.

Just to connect with that buzz of life and live playing is something we’re all missing.

P3dro: Are you even in any kind of position to make plans for next year?

Paul: Gigs. It’s hard to know. As for recording, I’d say we could. We have a good relationship with Dan Doherty [Darklands Audio] and we rehearse in the same building where he is. I’d be confident we could get in recording in early 2021, but the gigging thing is a whole different problem.

We originally had a headline show blocked in for Dublin and then it was delayed once and then there was no point in delaying it another 5 or 6 times. We don’t really have a clue.

You have to try and be optimistic. I would have said at the start of the year, we would have been back gigging in September, maybe, but I don’t want to tie myself down to anything just now.

Rob: It was a nice thing though, we’d recorded the previous single ‘Nothing More’ in March and then everything closed down. We were able to get back into [the studio] in the middle of July and record two more tracks once the first wave had ended here and things opened back up for a brief period.

Hopefully we can get back to that stage in a couple of months and record some new tracks.

P3dro: In Dublin, how have music venues been standing up?

Paul: Yeah, that’s a good question because there is the Save Our Venues being very visible and a lot of bands sharing it. I know a lot of the venues we would have been playing in, like Whelans and The Workmans are still organising reduced capacity gigs in a few months down the line. So they seem to be holding up OK.

But, time will tell. I can’t imagine any of them anticipating this going on much longer. It’s worrying, though, especially in Dublin because the spaces for live music … there aren’t exactly a huge amount of venues and if you lost even one of them that would be absolutely massive.

P3dro: How would you feel about playing a reduced capacity venue? We can’t see you being the kind of band that would really wanna do an all seated gig.

Paul: Jeez, yeah. If you’d asked me a few months ago, pre lockdown, then I’d probably have laughed at the prospect of doing, but I’d probably beg to do one now. I’d do a seated gig to 2 people and I’d pay a tenner to do it as well.

Brendan: It’s funny how you kind of adapt. I remember our first live stream and I was [wondering] how the hell is this going to translate, with acoustic guitars, me with a tiny little drum and a tambourine. But I think it was actually a useful exercise. The set went well. I’d definitely be up for doing a reduced capacity gig.

Paul: We’re desperate to do anything. I think every band is the same. We’ll probably see Idles doing a gig to 20 people in a few months.

There was a bit of a messy situation over here because the government said pubs could open, but they didn’t give any guidance on live music for a week or two. The venues were screaming saying ‘What can we do? Can we put on gigs or not?’ It happened for about a week and then shut down again.

P3dro: We think the smaller bars and venues could do OK. We can’t see 1,000 + people going to arena gigs any time soon.

Paul: No. I guess how a lot of venues make their money is tied up in drink sales, too. You need people drinking. They’ll probably be drinking about 50 or 60 pints – they’ve been waiting so long to get back in. But I think the smaller venues could be booming. We’d be happy to get back into any of them right now.

Brendan: It seems like some of the bigger venues are doing filmed shows of bands playing. We did one in Waterford in an arts venue. It was pretty bizarre, with just the film crew and we rocked out and did our set. At the end of each song, there was just silence, and a dude there with a camera. It was good fun, though.

P3dro: How was that? We spoke to band from Liverpool, The Heavy North, who played a gig in the empty M&S Bank Arena.

Paul: Thankfully, our venue was a theatre, so it wasn’t quite that big an arena. But it was absolutely mad. We were told by the camera and lights crew to play 2 songs and then stop so they could re-calibrate all the cameras. So we couldn’t really get into it. We’d be getting all the buzz on and then finish a song and they’d say ‘Now take a break’.

It was insane. No one there, loads of empty seats.

Len: It was interesting not to have an audience to feed off, because normally, that would help with the energy of the set. People get you going – you’re catching their eyes and so on. And that gets us more into it. But with no one there it was very intense, but we enjoyed it anyway. It was a bonus to get play together at all.

P3dro: Recommend a band or an album we should be listening to right now.

Rob: There’s a new song from a band from Nottingham called Do Nothing. It’s called ‘Glueland’. They played here back in November. They’re unreal live.

Brendan: I can recommend the new album by Kean Kavanagh called ‘Dog Person’.

Paul: I’ll recommend a band from Dublin, who are good friends of ours, called Sprints. They’re a very good post punk band who we’ve played a few gigs with.

Len: I’ll go with another local artist called Trophy Wife, she’s a soloist and multi instrumentalist. She released an album called ‘Art’ which is really good. There’s a great single called ‘On The Phone’, it’s a sort of 80s dance, pop / rock, throwback kind of track. So, that’s what I go with.

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